Archive 1998-2004 (Online Resource Room)

I stopped updating this page around the time I moved the syllabus for all my courses into the form of a weblog.

Now that I use MovableType as my content-management system, letting it handle much of the creation of context links and subject groupings, I tend to spend less time doing that sort of thing by hand.

  • Cruel Amusement Park Instructions 30 May 2004; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Amusement parks just wouldn't be amusing without all the warnings that we ignore.
  • (Meme)X Marks the Spot: Theorizing Metablogging via "Meme" and "Conduit" 20 Mar 2004; by Dennis G. Jerz
    This paper examines metablogging in terms of Dawkins's concept of the "meme" and Reddy's critique of the "conduit" metaphor for communication.
  • Short Stories: 10 Tips for Novice Creative Writers 24 May, 2003; Kathy Kennedy
    A short story starts close to the conclusion, conserves characters, scenes and details, and usually focuses on a single problem and a short time peroid. This page offers tips on writing dialogue, building to a climax, and capturing the reader's interest.
  • Integrating Good Sources 10 Dec 2002; Dennis G. Jerz
    If your college instructor wants you to cite every fact or opinion you find in an outside source, how do you make room for your own opinion? Paraphrase. Quote selectively. Avoid summary.
  • Newbie Web Author Checklist 15 Nov 2002; Denins G. Jerz
    If you've recently created your first website and you're getting ready to submit it for a class assignment, then this page is for you.
  • Gender-neutral Language 04 Nov 2002 (updated); Dennis G. Jerz
    Many people believe that the general use of the term "man" is offensive, or at least inaccurate.  Phrases like "no man is an island" or "every man for himself" seem to exclude women. Unless your goal is to offend or annoy your audience, you should follow the conventions they expect.
  • I Found it on the Internet: Teaching Students to Locate, Evaluate and Cite Online Sources 28 Jan 2002; Dennis G. Jerz
    The link above goes to the web version of a powerpoint presentation.
  • All Your Usenet are Belong to Wesley 14 Dec 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    I tracked down
    the first Usenet references to the hated Star Trek character Wesley Crusher, and to Wil Wheaton, the child actor who grew up to gain some serious geek credibility.
  • Titles for Web Pages: In Context and Out of Context 25 Nov 2001; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Most writers know the value of an informative title, but but many beginning web authors don't know that each web page needs two kinds of titles.
  • Short Reports: How To Write Routine Technical Documents 13 Nov 2001; by Dennis G. Jerz
    This collection of documents uses examples and commentary to teach technical writing principles. Chief among them: good writers don't need fancy words; a technical document is not a mystery novel; and, break your content into appropriate sections.
  • World Trade Center: Reflections on the Disaster 11 Sep 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    Skyscrapers in general, and the twin towers of the World Trade Center in particular, symbolize, for many writers, either prideful arrogance, or a new technological beauty.
  • Scott Adams: Storytelling in Computer Games 02 Sep 2001; Matt Hoy and Dennis G. Jerz, eds.
    The author of the first commercial computer game ("Adventureland," 1978) leads a lively discussion on narrative, copyright, and violence. He also describes his first night playing EverQuest
  • Exposition in Interactive Fiction 15 Jul 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    Putting long stretches of narrative prose into the mouth of the interactive fiction narrator will not turn a great puzzle-fest into even a passable story.... The interactive fiction player is supposed to live the story.
  • Frames: Finding the URL of a Framed Document 19 Apr 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    Look for an "escape from frames" or "turn this frame off" link. Right-click on a link (or, on a Mac, hold down the control key while clicking) and select the command that will let you "open link in new window."
  • "Last Page of the Internet" Links 09 Apr 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    Who first created the "Last Page of the Internet" joke? I have no idea.
  • Scott Adams, Computer Gaming Pioneer, to Speak at UWEC 26 Mar 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    Scott Adams, the computer gaming pioneer whose work during the early 80s helped spawn an entertainment industry, will visit the University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire on Thursday, May 3, 2001 as part of the UWEC English Festival. He will participate in an early afternoon round table (2pm, location TBD), and also discuss his work in the Hibbard Humanities Hall penthouse, 4-5pm.
  • Eliza (1966) 02 Mar 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    Eliza was the first chatterbot -- a computer program that mimics human conversation. In only about 200 lines of computer code, Eliza models the behavior of a psychiatrist (or, more specifically, the "active listening" strategies of a touchy-feely 1960s Rogerian therapist).
  • Galatea (Interactive fiction) posted 06 Mar 2001; by Emily Short
    ...She might be the model in a perfume ad; the trophy wife at a formal gathering; one of the guests at this very opening, standing on an empty pedestal in some ironic act of artistic deconstruction -- You hesitate, about to turn away. Her hand balls into a fist. "They told me you were coming."
  • Outlines: How They Can Help You 02 Mar 2001; Dennis G. Jerz
    An outline is a tool that helps writers determine whether they have enough raw material (in the form of quotations from scholarly sources and/or data from original research) to construct a particular argument. 
  • I Missed Class...Did I Miss Anything Important? 02 Mar 2001; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Most teachers I know cringe when students who missed class e-mail to request a transcript of the class they missed. My policy is to say, "Get the notes from a classmate." 
  • Top 5 Tips for Effective Notetaking 23 Feb 2001; Vivinette K. Dietsche (UWEC student)
    The transition from high school textbook learning to college lecture learning can leave students struggling academically. Make that transition easy by following these 5 top tips to improve your notetaking -- and your GPA.
  • Zplet Bug Hunt 06 Feb 2001; compiled by Dennis G. Jerz
    Some time ago I corresponded with Matthew T. Russotto, programmer of Zplet,
    who gave me permission to update, expand, and redistribute Zplet for
    non-commercial purposes. So... what bugs bedevil us when we use Zplet?
  • Blurbs: Help your readers preview your pages 05 Feb 2001; by Dennis G. Jerz
    A blurb is a short paragraph that previews what's on the other end of a link. You're reading a blurb now. If it helps you decide whether you should click the link, then it has done its job.
  • Writing Effective E-Mail: Top 10 Tips 23 Jan 2001; by Jessica Bauer (UWEC Student)
    These ten tips will help teach you how to write effective, high-quality e-mails in today's professional environment. Write a meaningful subject line; keep the message short and readable; avoid attachments; identify yourself; don't flame (and more).
  • Hypertext Essays- How to Write Them 11 Jan 2001; by Dennis G. Jerz
    The ordinary prose essay has been around for hundreds of years; people have had a long time to discover how to write a good one.  But hypertext is a much more recent invention.
  • Slamming the Door on Readers 01 Nov 2000; Dennis G. Jerz
    Web design is a good thing; but web authors who overemphasize design frequently end up skimping on -- or even subverting -- their own content.
  • Keep It Simple Stupid: On the Web, a KISS is still a KISS 01 Nov 2000; Dennis G. Jerz
    Want to launch a business that makes a really huge impression?  Put the cash register on the roof.  How cool would that be!
  • Learn to Fear Jupiter Communications! 09 Sep 2000; Dennis G. Jerz
    If this press release represents the kind of thinking that comes out of this company, I suggest that you run screaming from the unbounded evil that Jupiter Communications represents.
  • MLA-Style Bibliography Builder 17 Apr 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Updated to handle web sources (Jan 2001).  Choose a form, fill it out, and push the button... you will get an individual MLA "Works Cited" entry, which you may then copy and paste into your word processor. 
  • Oral Presentations: Delivering Technical Information Face-to-face 03 Dec 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    If you are talking, you had better have something worthwhile to say.  But no matter how well-written, an oral presentation is only as effective as its delivery.
  • Dr. Seuss Goes to Florida 28 Nov 2000 (posted here) 
    "Let's count them upside down this time. Let's count until the state is mine. I will not let this VOTE count stand! I do not like it, GORE I am!"
  • Jingle Bells 2000 25 Nov 2000; by John L. Jerz
    Dashing through the snow, of fallen dimpled chad, we rush to count the votes, the judge is getting mad!"
  • Florida County Ballot Design Raises Questions about Election 2000 08 Nov 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    The 2000 U.S. Presidential race was so close that some Democratic Party officials think a hard-to-use Florida ballot may have unfairly decided the presidency.
  • The Waste Land 02 Nov 2000; HTML by Dennis G. Jerz
    T. S. Eliot's groundbreaking modernist creation defined the new, urban literature of the Twentieth Century.
  • Interactive Fiction Call for Papers 15 Oct 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    The journal Text Technology invites submissions for a special issue devoted to interactive fiction -- that is, the text-based participatory novel, or "adventure game.”
  • PICK UP AX (Review) 15 Sep 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Much as Shakespeare might allude to mythology or appeal to floral symbolism in order to make a point about human nature, playwright Anthony Clarvoe uses computer games as a vehicle to show the audience who his characters are and what they want out of life.
  • Revision vs. Editing 29 Aug 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    If you are expected to revise your own document, but all you do is edit it, then you are only making surface changes, instead of deep, substantive ones that will enable you to express your thoughts clearly and effectively.
  • Journalism Basics -- Hard News 14 Dec 1999; by Lori Kurtzman (UWEC junior)
    Hard news articles are written so the the reader can stop reading at any time, and still come away with the whole story. This is very different from an essay, which presumes that the audience will stick around to the end.
  • Poetry is for the Ear 30 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Whatever poetry you write or read, learn to listen with the ears of your audience. Pay attention to the sounds the words make. Writing in "free verse" does not excuse the poet's obligation to please the ear.
  • Top 10 Tips for Writing Poetry 26 May, 2000; by Kara Ziehl, UWEC Junior
    Know your goal; avoid clichés; avoid sentimentality; use images; use metaphor and simile; use concrete words; communicate theme; subvert the ordinary; rhyme with extreme caution; and revise, revise, revise.
  • Writing for the Internet: Why is the Advice so Scant? 20 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Turning the pages of a book is still (and will probably always be) the best way to read a novel. But the Internet has spawned new writing genres which demand a different writing mode. Learn about that mode here.
  • Prototypes in Technical Writing: What Are They?  19 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    A good prototype will help you identify flaws (research gaps or mistaken assumptions) long before you have dug yourself into a hole by investing a lot of time in it. A sculptor makes a scale model in clay -- a prototype -- before chiseling away at a full-sized chunk of marble. It it much easier to fix major mistakes in clay than it is to throw away a ruined chunk of marble and start over again.
  • Usability Testing: What Is It? 19 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    The first rule of technical writing is "know your audience."  But even the best planning cannot predict all possible user errors.  This document introduces the concept of testing for usability, which measures whether test subjects can actually use your prototype to complete assigned tasks.
  • Writing for the Internet: Illustration of the Need 13 Jul 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Many on-line web tutorials give practical, useful technical advice on everything from non-clashing color combinations to effective uses of animated GIFs, but barely mention writing at all. Web designers too frequently ignore their content.
  • My Computer Crashed -- Do I Get an Extension? 15 Jun 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Computer problems are no excuse for falling behind in your work. If the university network is down for more than a few hours, I may allow you to turn in a rough draft at the appointed time, and a revised version at the end of the day; but in general, I expect you to plan a head so that a single technological glitch does not sink your project.
  • The Education of Henry Adams 27 May 2000; HTML by Dennis G. Jerz
    A descendant of two presidents, Adams was a political disappointment, a theological agnostic, and a technological skeptic. He struggled throughout his life with articulate the philosophical issues that we now identify with modernism. If politics, religion, and science all came up short in pinning down and explaining the human condition, the intellectual wayfarer must educate himself to cope with a world in a constant state of flux.
  • URL-Hacking: Do-it-yourself navigation 18 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    You wind up on a strange web page without any hyperlinks, and with the unhelpful message "Use the 'Go Back' button to return to the table of contents."  If you want to explore this web site, what do you do? Try hacking the URL.
  • Call of the Wild (Jack London) 28 Mar 2000; HTML by Laura Krahn and Kristen Seas
    "The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck, and under the fierce conditions of trail life it grew and grew. Yet it was a secret growth. His newborn cunning gave him poise and control. He was too busy adjusting himself to the new life to feel at ease, and not only did he not pick fights, but he avoided them whenever possible. A certain deliberateness characterized his attitude. He was not prone to rashness and precipitate action; and in the bitter hatred between him and Spitz he betrayed no impatience, shunned all offensive acts." (Ch3 ¶1)
  • My Antonia (Willa Cather) 14 Mar 2000; HTML by Laura Krahn and Kristen Seas
    "There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land--slightly undulating, I knew, because often our wheels ground against the brake as we went down into a hollow and lurched up again on the other side. I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man's jurisdiction. I had never before looked up at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven all there was of it." (Bk1 Ch1 ¶11)
  • Resumes -- Content Fall, 1999; by Erin Vanden Wymelenberg and Dennis G. Jerz
    Employers read resumes in order to find evidence that a particular applicant is well qualified for a particular job.  Experience, education, training, and personal qualities relevant to the job are all important. The resume should describe what has led the applicant to where he or she is now.
  • Resumes -- Presentation Fall, 1999; by Erin Vanden Wymelenberg and Dennis G. Jerz
    Many employers look for creativity and imagination when the job calls for it. However, it is best to aim for a professional, neat, and organized look for your resume.  If you are applying for a job that requires radical creativity, you can always include a portfolio of your wildest, most unbusinesslike work!
  • Cover Letters -- Top 5 Tips 11 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    You can't simply say "I am a good match" -- you have to prove it. A detailed resume is only part of the game plan. Your cover letter should emphasize why your experiences and attributes make you a good match for the job
  • Resumes -- Top 5 Problems 09 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    I regularly ask my students to submit resumes early in the semester.  Here are the top 5 problems that typically cause stress for my students (and me) during this assignment.
  • Show, Don't (Just) Tell 08 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    When writing a short story, an academic essay, or a technical report, show, don't just tell your readers what you want them to know. There.  I've just told you something.  Pretty lame, huh? Now, let me show you.
  • Crisis vs. Conflict 05 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Good stories are built, not just around crises (a car crash or other emergency), but rather conflict -- a clash of wills, a difficult moral choice, an internal mental struggle.  You need conflict in order to make the reader care about the people involved in the crisis.
  • Timed Essays: Planning and Organizing in a Crunch 04 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Some students are so worried about filling up the page that they just open up the valve and let the B.S. flow. Remember, your instructor will read your essay, not weigh it.
  • Writing That Demonstrates Thinking Ability 04 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    Many students have no trouble summarizing the plot of a novel or repeating dates from history, but they they freeze up when asked to formulate a theory or critique an argument.   If you learn to recognize the kinds of thinking you are expected to demonstrate on a particular assignment, you can focus your efforts more efficiently.
  • Puzzles in Interactive Fiction (02 May 2000); by Dennis G. Jerz
    A puzzle in IF is, in one sense, a management tool to separate "movements" in the overall plot. A good puzzle will also be part of the game's atmosphere (a spy game might involve decoding messages; a science-fiction game might involve learning about an alien artifact).
  • How Does Interactive Fiction Differ From... 02 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz
    A mainstream computer game? Tree fiction? Hypertext narrative? MUDs and MOOs?  To help explain what interactive fiction is, this article explains what interactive fiction is not.
  • Navigation: An often neglected component of web authorship (01 May 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    To make the best use of hypertext, you should not blindly follow the convention of printed, linear text.  Instead, divide your content into logical, free-standing units that can be strung together, like beads on a string, in different orders.
  • Instructions: Write for Busy, Grouchy People (28 Apr 2000)
    People hate reading instructions, and will only glance at them when they are hopelessly lost. By then, they will already be frusrated and behind schedule. Organize your instructions carefully, phrase them clearly, and make them as brief as you possibly can.
  • What is Interactive Fiction? (31 Apr 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Interactive fiction (IF) is computer-mediated narrative, resembling a very finely-grained "Choose Your Own Adventure" story. The interactor reads a short textual description ("You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building."), and types instuctions to the computer ("enter building"). The plot can change based on what the interactor types. It is more truly interactive than hypertext.
  • What is Tenure? (19 Apr 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Tenure is a professor's permanent job contract, granted after a probationary period of six or seven years. At UWEC, tenure is determined by the applicant's teaching ability, publication record, departmental service, and student advising.
  • What is Technical Writing?(18 Apr 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Technical writers do need good computer skills, but they do not necessarily have to write about computers all their lives. The Greek word techne simply means "skill".
  • Academic Journals: Using Them Properly (17 Apr 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    "Crazy Joe's Shakespeare Website" probably won't have the authoritative information your English professor is looking for. If you want up-to-date, accurate articles, look in an academic journal.
  • MLA-Style Bibliography Builder (17 Apr 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Choose a form, fill it out, and push the button... you will get an individual "Works Cited" entry, which you may then copy and paste into your word processor. The BibBuilder is limited in its usefulness, but you may nevertheless find it helpful.
  • Nominalization: Don't Overuse Nouns (26 Mar 2000; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Instead of boring your readers with with a lot of abstract nouns ("results in an increase," "conducts an investigation") make your verbs do the work ("raises," "investigates").
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (18 Jan 2000; HTML by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Mark Twain's novel about coming of age on the Mississippi.
    "It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened." (19:5)
  • English 110, Fall 1999 [Student Writing Samples] (18 Dec 1999, edited by Stacey Delcore)
  • MLA Style- Using MS-Word to Format a Paper (08 Oct 1999, David Nies)
  • A Young Writing Centre Cuts its Teeth in Cyberspace (Mar 1999; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    Is it worth the time and effort to re-invent the wheel, just for the sake of creating your own writing-related web site?  Since I created the web site and many original resources for the University of Toronto Engineering Writing Centre, my own answer is obviously "yes."   Nevertheless, I recognize that I operated under specific circumstances, including our large class sizes, our technically literate students, and the current job market which favors technology-based teaching experience.
  • Engineering Writing: Towards a Pro-active Technical Writing Curriculum (May 1998; by Dennis G. Jerz)
    In a language-across-the-curriculum (LAC) program, the writing instructor has limited access to students. When the most direct contact comes after the student has already finished the assignment (that is, during grading) the student has no opportunity to apply the lessons. Creative use of the Internet can help manage the writing instructor’s work. 

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